One of the places that often welcomes RV’ers for free overnights is a casino. We found one after leaving Banff on the lands of the Stoney-Nakoda First Nation people, west of Calgary. We had a great stay, enjoyed a good meal and even did some laundry. We did gamble a small amount, but it was fortunate that we kept the amount small.
The knock on the door took us by surprise. Figuring it to be one of our neighbors at Payne Lake, we were surprised to see Pat and Fred. It was Sunday morning and the last communication we had had with them was Friday night over a borrowed cell phone, quickly describing our change of plans. We hadn’t had any way to call or receive an e-mail from them since. We learned that they had spent a night in Lethbridge getting a hose replaced on their engine and another night at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (an interesting stop that we missed) before taking a chance on finding us still at the Provincial Park.
Having seen dozens of glaciers on the trip to Alaska and back, we were a little surprised to learn that we would not be seeing any within the park named for them. Climate change has taken its toll. Many of the park’s glaciers have retreated dramatically, some are gone completely, and all the rest are expected to disappear within 15 years. This hasn’t dimmed the park’s popularity at all. The park is bisected by the Going to the Sun road, which was an engineering marvel in its day, winding around and through the mountains, with some sections even suspended above the valley floor far below. We joined a steady stream of cars traveling this road, enjoying the scenery, but speculating how much longer private cars would be allowed on it.
Thanks to that particular anniversary, we soon discovered that we were not going to be in a National Park on the centennial.
As the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone figured prominently in the centennial of the National Park Service. There was a concert at the north entrance to the park to celebrate on the 25th that was attracting large crowds to the area. We decided to delay our arrival until the next day. After a stop in Helena at the county fairgrounds and a Bozeman Wal-mart, we arrived at the Mammoth campground at the north entrance early Friday morning and secured a couple of campsites This would be our base to explore the park for the next week.
Although our Honda 1000 generator, which was originally purchased to charge Orion Jr’s batteries, has been doing fine charging the RV’s batteries, we were concerned that it wasn’t up to the challenge if we needed to run the A/C. While we were staying in Helena, Dave saw an ad for a sale at Harbor Freight on a generator that would do the job. We had seen one in Seward being used by someone with the same model fifth wheel. He was able to buy one and Cathy managed to modify a grill cover to keep it dry. After re-arranging the contents of the truck bed, it now has a home and it seems to be doing a good job. However, we haven’t put it to the real test yet, since it hasn’t yet gone through the break-in period. More about that in future updates.